Judge rules Manitoba government misused federal benefits meant for children in care

A judge has found that the Manitoba government misappropriated federal benefits meant for children in care. 

The years-long case relates to the federal government’s Children’s Special Allowance, which is meant to ensure children in care get the same federal funding that other children get through the Canada Child Benefit and Child Disability Benefit.

From 2006 to 2019, the Manitoba government required Child and Family Services agencies to give the money from the benefit to the government, arguing that it belonged to the government since it was paying the cost of looking after the children. 

A group of Indigenous Child and Family Services agencies and authorities took the province to court over the practice in 2018.

Another constitutional legal challenge was later filed by 19 Indigenous CFS agencies and authorities and the Southern Chiefs Organization against legislation meant to make Manitoba immune from legal action over the clawback.

Earlier this week, Court of Queen’s Bench Judge James Edmond ruled that these actions were unconstitutional and discriminated against foster children in Manitoba.

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the case estimate the province has to date illegally taken over $334 million — including $251 million from Indigenous Child and Family Services agencies — meant for children in care.

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